Renumbering Your PDFs

I work with PDFs a lot. I can’t tell you the last time I pulled a paper file to look at a document in it. Instead, I look only at my electronic copy of a file. Navigating in a PDF, however is not always the easiest thing to do, especially if the creator did not include bookmarks or other reference points.

An additional problem can arise when you are working with a document that has different styles of page numbers. An example is a brief, that may include pages i through x for the prefatory matters and Arabic numbers after that.

At her blog Going Paperless, Molly DiBianca, provides a useful, easy to follow, step-by-step tutorial on how to remumber your pages in a PDF.

The process she describes is easy to do and it is post I definitely recommend that you check out.

Saving Time by Going Paperless

As usual, Ernie the Attorney has it exactly right:

The advantages of being paperless are many, but it’s hard to appreciate them until you stop storing information in paper and learn to be comfortable with digital information. ¬†Once you do, you’d never go back to dealing with paper.

This is the problem that I run into all of the time. People I talk to seem to understand the advantages of going paperless. They seem to accept the fact that having immediate access to a document is an advantage over keeping the paper document in a file somewhere. However, I think this knowledge is theoretical only. It’s as if the attorneys I speak to recognize the benefits of going paperless, they just don’t believe that it is something they can achieve.

Both Ernie and I, as well as many others can tell you that you can go paperless. If going paperless is something you are considering, accept the fact that it is possible. Plunge in and make the change. You will never regret it.

Going Paperless: A Contrary View

It is no secret that I am a big fan of having a paperless practice. Let me pause for one second to make sure that everyone understands that when I refer to a paperless practice, I am not claiming that there is no paper in my office. Unfortunately there is. However, what it means, at least to me, is that, to the extent possible, I work exclusively with electronic versions of documents, that I convert all documents I receive to electronic copies, and that I do not print documents to paper unless I have to.

I also know that not everyone has jumped on the paperless bandwagon. I recently read a blog post at Paralegalese in which the author asserts that she does not believe that a paperless office is possible. She explains:

Perhaps the first reason I have a hard time envisioning a paperless office is that my own office is very paper-full. We print everything, from the e-filed orders to drafts of motions for review. We make copies of everything that leaves the office. When I am researching case laws, I print out the cases to highlight the pertinent parts. We print emails from clients to place in their files for quick future reference.

Now, I understand that everything we choose to print could actually be saved to file, and we could scan all of our paper documents into the system. But that is impractical for a law firm with one lawyer and one paralegal and, at any given time, fewer than 100 active client matters. I would spend much of my day scanning documents. Some days would be completely shot.

I understand her thoughts on this and they are not different from the thoughts I hear from others. In fact, she goes on to point out two other arguments that I often hear:

First, I must print out research material for the sake of my poor eyes. It is unhealthy to stare at a computer screen for hours of reading. I also have to highlight the relevant parts. Second, since we keep copies of everything that leaves the office, we keep copies of all signed letters. It seems impractical to print a letter, sign it, then rescan it into the system before sending it off. At least, in our office it is.

And if time and effort cannot be saved, then going paperless to save paper seems silly, too. In my office, we would still hit the print button. But without a file in which to save the newly printed paper, we would shred it when we were done.

Each of these arguments could be addressed in turn (for my thoughts about legal research see this article). However, I think the larger issue to be addressed is one of mindset. Going to a paperless office requires someone to be willing to let go of that physical document. It means spending a few dollars to get good quality, large monitors so you can easily read documents on a computer screen without having to print them out. It means learning how to use Adobe Acrobat so that you can highlight and annotate your research on the screen and not on a piece of paper. It means learning that it is ok to not print a copy of every order entered electronically or printing a fax received on your virtual fax number. And for heaven’s sake, it means not printing every email that you receive.

In addition to the post by the author, I encourage you to read the comments, Many of them are insightful and make going points about changing workflow habits, as well as the fact that going paperless improves productivity.

Using a ScanSnap to Go Paperless

Anyone familiar with my blog knows that I am a big proponent of storing every document in every file electronically. When I talk about this, one question that many people ask is what kind of scanner to get. One of the most popular scanners is the Fujitsu ScanSnap. This scanner is reasonably priced, works well, and is easy to operate. Three qualities that I am sure have helped its popularity.

Knowing the right hardware to use, however, is only part of the battle. You also have to know how to integrate that hardware into your workflow. Recently Rick Borstein posted a tutotial on how to best integrate a ScanSnap with Adobe Acrobat.

As with many of Rick’s posts, he takes you step-by-step (including handy pictures) through how to best set the scanner up to use it with Adobe Acrobat. If you are considering adding a ScanSnap to your desktop, you definately want to check out Rick’s post.

Another Benefit of Being Paperless

Yesterday I was reminded once again of the benefit of keeping all of my documents electronically.* I received an email from a former client with a question about a case that has been over for more than four years. If I had to resort to the paper file, I would have had to retrieve the file from storage and manually sort through the file to find the documents I needed to answer his question.

Because I had stored my documents electronically, however, with just a couple of mouse clicks I was able to open the relevant documents, review them, and send an email in response that both answered my former client’s question and included the relevant documents as attachments.

My former client was very pleased with my quick response (even if the answer may not have been what he wanted). If I had to retrieve and dig through the paper file, it would have taken 24 to 48 hours to answer his question, and it would have cost my staff time to retrieve the file and myself time to find what I needed.

Here, I answered my client’s question shortly after I got back to office and it took me less than five minutes to read his email, find the relevant documents and send him a response.

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*Please note that, although I use the term paperless in the title of this piece, that does not mean that you must jestion all of your paper. Saving all of your document electronically does not preclude you from also maintaining paper files. Do that if you either want to or beleive that you have to. Instead, saving your files electronically means that you have every document on every file stored electronically for easy retrival and review.